Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter a wonderland for the flu

Why is it that so many of us get the flu in the winter? Is it because we spend more time indoors and pass the virus to one another? Or because we get less sunshine and vitamin D on those shorter winter days?

A study published in October finds one reason the flu virus spreads in the winter is that -- like Frosty and the Abominable Snowman -- it actually prefers the weather. Conducted by researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the study found that the flu virus is transmitted best when it is at an oh-so-chilly 41 degrees. In fact, the virus is more stable in colder weather and in low humidity, when it stays in the air longer, the October study found.

If you live in warm area, don’t think this means you are safe from the flu, however. Your best bet for protecting yourself no matter where you live or play is to follow simple precautions: Get your seasonal flu vaccination and practice healthy habits such as regular handwashing.

As of tomorrow, winter is officially here in the United States. So as you make plans to dig out your winter shovel, snowshoes or skis, check out our Get Ready Helping Handouts for more tips on how to stay healthy.

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